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Boating While Intoxicated

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Lawyer New Jersey

Handling Boating While Intoxicated in Lake Hopatcong

Driving a boat under the influence is a very serious charge. New Jersey has adopted a separate offense to address the significant problems associated with operating a boat while under the influence (BWI) of alcohol or drugs. The BWI law is set forth in N.J.S.A. 12:7-46 and functions in basically the same manner as N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (driving while intoxicated). As you will see below, the BWI penalties are just as severe and crippling as DWI penalties.

N.J.S.A. 12:7-46 states, “No person shall operate a vessel on the waters of this State while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol.” For successful prosecution a of BWI charge, the prosecutor must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant must have been

  • Operating a “vessel” as defined in N.J.S.A. 12:7-71 or a vessel which is 12 feet or greater in length,
  • Operating the vessel on the waters of the state of New Jersey, and
  • Under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug. Alcohol intoxication is generally proven by producing evidence that the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% or greater.

Like Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), BWI charges are handled by the municipal court.

Penalties for BWI


Jail Sentence

Driving License Suspension

Boating License Suspension



First Offense (BAC .08-.099%) 3 months 1 year $250 – $400 $3,500 +
First Offense (BAC .08-.099%) 7 months – 1 year 1 year $300 – $500 $3,500 +
Second Offense  2-90 days 2 years 2 years $500 – $1,000 $3,500 +
Third Offense 180 days 10 years 10 years $1,000 $5,000 +

A first offense BWI for drugs and a refusal to submit to a chemical test are each subject to the same fines as a first offense BWI with a BAC over .10% as shown above. In addition to the penalties shown, anyone convicted of a second or subsequent offense for BWI may be ordered to perform community service.

As you can see, the penalties associated with BWI are just as serious, and arguably more serious, than those associated with a DWI matter. Just as in a DWI case, you should not consider handling BWI defense by yourself. Call The Mark Law Firm for competent, effective, and efficient representation now.

This information has been compiled as a result of the numerous trials and DWI matters Kevin B. Legreide, Esq. has conducted and been involved in over the years. Mr. Legreide is also very experienced in all aspects of criminal and municipal matters.